I enjoyed my classes fall semester. There was a lot of crazy super sciencing and fun was had. Here’s a summary of my classes and how they went:
Mechanics of Particles and Solid Bodies:
I thought that I would be okay with classical mechanics, but it turned out to be my worst class grade-wise. Just because it’s “classical”, doesn’t mean it’s easy. I should have given the class more attention and worked harder on understanding the curriculum. The professor was very nice and cared a lot about students grasping the material, but her teaching style was strange to me. I would label as very continuous; lectures would be a constant flow of consciousness with every patch of the blackboard filled with notes or drawings. Everything fit nicely together with lots of detail but I’d often lose track of the overall goal.
Introductory Quantum Mechanics (half a semester):
QM was as confusing as I thought it would be (very). I hope I’ll understand it better in my full semester long QM class this spring. I understand some of the underlying concepts of QM, but overall it just doesn’t make sense to me.
Intermediate Electromagnetism (half a semester):
First half of E&M was “Do you remember how to do Freshmen E&M?” My answer was “yes.” Second half was “Can you solve Laplace’s Equation?” My answer was “no”, even though I should have mastered it last year. But oh well, I know the basics of E&M pretty well and I should be able to survive my Electrodynamics class this spring.
Introduction to Astrophysics and Space Sciences:
Astrophysics was very challenging. It was by far the smallest science class I’ve ever been in with only about 10 students, 5 of who regularly attended lectures. Students were mostly seniors in physics with some junior and AEPs. Homework and exams were some of the most difficult I’ve ever had, relying heavily on deriving equations yourself. It’s the kind of work I prefer, using conceptual understanding and problem solving skills rather than grunt work calculations. It can be very frustrating though, when you have a one sentence long question and you still haven’t made any progress after working on it for hours, although it’s quite rewarding when (if ever) you figure it out.
I really enjoyed lectures for this class and learned a lot. Lectures were in the top of the Space Sciences Building in a cool conference room with an nice view of the construction on the the new physical sciences building. Astro combines all sorts of different kinds of physics from E&M to QM to General Relativity to Chemistry to Nuclear Physics to Solid-state Physics to Classical Mechanics and so on. It introduced me to a lot of new things. Somehow I survived it and I look forward to my next Astro class.
Introduction to Nuclear Science and Engineering:
This was a cool class that was pretty light on the homework side of things, which was nice for a change. I’ve long had an interest energy production, nuclear in particular, and this class taught me a lot about issues in the nuclear industry. I liked the nuclear physics portion of the curriculum more than the actual engineering of power plants, but it was still interesting overall.